Our second meeting with DC United of 2017 is just around the corner…
Where will the game be won and lost (aside from ‘at RFK Stadium’)? Managing Editor Mark Booth pulls at some of the threads.
Has Patrick Vieira discovered his best XI?
Late additions in the offseason led the NYCFC Head Coach to declare on a number of occasions that it would take time for him to find the perfect combination of players new and old.
However, the Frenchman has picked the same XI for the past three games, suggesting he’s at least close to finding the right formula.
The team’s only defeat came on the road on the opening weekend so it will be interesting to see if Vieira sticks with a winning side or whether he makes rotations to keep DC guessing and hand minutes to some lesser-spotted members of the squad.
Return of T-Mac?
Tommy McNamara’s goalscoring turn against San Jose Earthquakes will give Patrick one of those pleasant headaches Head Coaches enjoy.
If he does call upon Tommy from the start in the capital, he knows what he’ll be getting: high energy, quality combination play and someone who can produce a goal out of nothing.
The goal McNamara scored last weekend wasn’t any more about him than any of the other architects of the move but there is a lot to be said for someone having the anticipation and timing to arrive in the box at exactly the right moment to finish.
If he did come into the XI, who would he replace? It’s a tough call but we’ll see what’s in Vieira’s mind when the team news is released at around 3pm ET on Saturday.
Just eleven players have won at least 11 tackles in MLS play this season. Two of them (Alexander Ring - 14, Ronald Matarrita - 11) play for NYCFC.
We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: There’s plenty of sweat to go with the sparkle of this team – they get through some running and they don’t mind going in where it hurts to do the unfashionable parts of the game.
We covered Ring’s excellent start in the last Five Things and it certainly continued against San Jose last time out.
Matarrita has flown under the radar somewhat, allowing the new signings to take many of the plaudits but he has been every bit as influential – if not, moreso – than in his Freshman season at NYCFC.
His role in the winning goal in our last match was sensational but it’s his coverage of the whole left side that continues to be his greatest strength, as well as the quality he has on the ball when he receives it.
Villa to Score?
History has told us that David likes playing against DC United… a lot.
He’s netted six times in games against our Washington rivals which is as many as he’s scored against any other MLS team and he’ll be hoping to add to that impressive tally on Saturday.
Although he didn’t net against San Jose, the first time in nine months NYCFC have won without a goal from El Guaje, he was just as important as ever, contributing to both goals with stunning flicks.
Since our 4-0 victory over Ben Olsen’s men, there have been green shoots suggesting improvement for our hosts.
They beat Philadelphia Union last weekend, scoring their first two goals of the campaign and claiming their first three points.
They will be missing ex-NYCFC striker Patrick Mullins who is injured, as well as Marcelo Sarvas who received retrospective punishment for an off-the-ball incident against Philadelphia.
Despite that, Olsen’s team will be imbued with the confidence of their win and will have the home crowd to cheer them on.
It should be another fascinating game!